UPDATE, 12:43 PM: Never underestimate the power of the ladies’ figure skating short program plus a gold medal win in the giant slalom to attract eyeballs to Olympics TV coverage. The final numbers are in and NBC‘s tape-delayed primetime coverage out of Sochi scored the network’s best result in 12 years. With a 12.2/20 national household rating and 20.2 million viewers, Wednesday has bested both the virtually live Vancouver 2010 coverage and the tape-delayed Torino 2006 broadcast on comparable nights. Last night’s result was up a slight 2.5% and 2%, respectively, from the 11.9/20 rating and 19.2 million viewers of 2010 but rose 22% and 25% from the 10.0/15 rating and 16.0 million viewers in 2006. Which means the last time a second Wednesday of a Winter Games did that well on TV for NBC was February 20, 2002 — during the last U.S.-based games in Salt Lake City. That second Wednesday pulled in a 19.5/31 rating with an audience of 32.0 million. Yes – impressive.
PREVIOUS, 8:54 AM: Aided by a menu including the always popular ladies figure skating and an on-ice appearance by heavily promoted U.S. champion Gracie Gold, NBC saw its Olympics coverage go up a bit compared with the night before. On a night with originals on all the other networks, NBC’s tape-delayed primetime coverage drew a 5.0/5 rating and 20.1 million viewers. That’s up from the 4.8/14 rating and 18.5 million viewers the Games had on Tuesday. However, it is a 9% slip from the comparable night of the Vancouver 2010 games 4 years ago, which had a 5.5.15. Night-to-night, the viewership of the second Wednesday of the Sochi Olympics was pretty much the same as the 20.3 million who watched the virtually live Vancouver Winter Games on NBC on February 24, 2010.
Then again, in a Olympics that has hovered on or met historic demo lows, Wednesday’s adults 18-49 rating is also down 10% from the 5.6/16 NBC’s Sochi coverage had on February 12. That first Wednesday of the Sochi Games had a viewership of 20.77 million watching – just up a bit from last night’s audience. We’ll update with final national Olympics numbers when we get them.
On Fox, American Idol’s second live show of Season 13 got a 2.6/8 and 9.9 million viewers That’s down 23% from what the veteran reality show pull off among adults 18-49 last week when it was still in the taped auditions phase. Last night’s Idol also dipped 4% from the first live show of the season on February 18. Overall, that’s a far cry from the comparable night four years ago. Back then Idol thrashed the Olympics in head-to-head 8 PM-10 PM competition with an 8.6 rating and 22.8 million viewers, besting NBC’s Vancouver coverage’s 4.9 rating in the demo and audience of 19 million in the shared slot.
CBS had a new Criminal Minds and a new CSI on at 9 PM and 10 PM last night. The procedurals garnered 2.4/7 and 2.0/6 respectively. The former was down 14% from its last original on February 5 while the latter was flat with its last new show on the same night. In their shared 9 PM-10 PM hour, Criminal Minds was ahead of Idol in viewers for the first time ever- with 9.91 million to 9.84 million. Like last Wednesday, ABC’s only original offering of the night was Super Fun Night. The finale of the freshman comedy got a 0.9/3 to hit a new low.
Deadline's Dominic Patten - tip him here.